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POTTSTOWN - Perkiomen Valley junior wrestler Nick Giangiulio had to take the long route to qualify for the state tournament, but he made it work.
Giangiulio, wrestling at 152 pounds, fought his way from the pigtail round with four straight victories to capture a first-place gold medal during the Class AAA Southeast Regional at Pottstown High School’s Strom Gymnasium last Friday and Saturday.
Giangiulio capped his effort with a 4-2 overtime thriller decision over Norristown freshman Rashon Lusane in the championship finals.
Giangiulio (36-2), who placed third at the District 1-West Tournament the previous weekend, was joined by eight more PAC-10 wrestlers in qualifying for the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey this weekend.
Owen J. Roberts’ Colby Frank (126), Boyertown freshman Jordan Wood (220) and Methacton junior Tracey Green (285) also captured gold medals among league wrestlers. Owen J. Roberts senior Gordon Bolig (182) copped a second-place silver medal.
Four other wrestlers claimed third-place beronze medals to also earn tickets for Hershey. They were Owen J. Roberts sophomore Derek Gulotta (113), Boyertown junior Eddie Kriczky (126), Upper Perkiomen senior Wolfgang McStravick (132) and Spring-Ford senior Tyler McGuigan (170).
“It was a tough day,” Giangiulio said of a tourney that saw three of his four matches extend into overtime. “How I made it through was to keep fighting. As long as there’s time left on the clock, you have to keep fighting.”
Giangiulio (36-2) won his preliminary bout with a 3-1 tiebreaker decision against Wissahickon senior Daniel Schueren. Then came a 6-4 sudden-victory decision over North Penn’s top-seeded Jeffery Reimel, a junior. The Perkiomen Valley standout then pinned Avon Grove junior Caleb Edwards at the 5:01 mark to advance to the finals.
In the championship clash, the first period went scoreless. Lusane went up with an escape at the 1:37 mark of the second period to take a 1-0 lead after two sessions. Giangiulio started on the bottom position to start the third period and scored a reversal with 15 seconds to move in front. Lusane countered with a last-second escape to put the match into overtime. Giangiulio posted a takedown with 20 seconds left in overtime to register the victory.
“He is a good wrestler,” said Giangiulio. “He is a strong kid, and he’s good with defense. He was able to keep me down and riding me.”
Giangiulio’s father, Mike, wrestled for two years at Phoenixville and then for two more years at St. Pius X. Nick’s grandfather, Buzz, was also a wrestling star and remains his biggest fan to this day with attendance at all of his grandson’s matches and tournaments.
Giangiulio said he went back to basics, and his Viking coaches pushed him hard in the practice room all week in order to prepare for the rigors of regionals with a state tourney berth on the line. He put in added cardiovascular work to heighten his conditioning to endure the grind, and it paid off handsomely.
After spending most of his sophomore year in relative obscurity, Giangiulio is now riding high with attention and notoriety with all of his successes.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “It is definitely new to me. I never had it.”
And with achievements and increased publicity come even more pressure in a an already demanding world of pressure-packed postseason wrestling.
“My goal in the beginning of the season was to make it to states,” he said. “I came very close last year. I had to swallow the pill and I had to come back this year with extra personal motivation.”
“I want to get one of those 2-pound bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups. I am going to go out and give it everything I’ve got. I don’t want to leave anything on the mat.”
But he was also well aware of other strong wrestlers in different parts of the state, including Districts 7, 11 and 3.
Giangiulio is also a highly intelligent student-athlete in the classroom. He is planning on a career in physics because of his interest in engineering and the sciences field. His dream school for college right now is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but he is also looking at Ivy League schools like Brown and Princeton as well as Patriot League entry Lehigh, which also happens to be a Division I wrestling hotbed.
McGuigan (35-7) also took the long road to Hershey. He climbed all the way through the pigtail round with a fall in 5:39 against Upper Dublin senior Kyle Carson in 5:39. Then came a 10-0 loss by major decision to top-seeded and eventual champion Dominic Rigous, a senior from Central Bucks South who is now a perfect 41-0 for the season. After that, McGuigan pinned Octorara junior Nick Prange at 2:35 in consolations and then came another fall against Downingtown West junior Gabe Hall at 2:20.
In the consolation final, McGuigan scored a 1-0 decision in double overtime against Glen Mills senior Shawn Croyle.
“It feels great,” said McGuigan. “My goal was to make it through. I had to wrestle tough and my goal was to never let anything stop me. I wanted to get to states. This is my senior year. It got tougher as it went on. I didn’t expect an easy trip. People stepped up.”
Four PAC-10 wrestlers placed fourth, which was one win shy of a trip to states. They were Boyertown’s Cody Richmond (160), OJR’s Adam Moser (145) and Upper Perkiomen brothers Dustin (106) and Dante Steffenino (120). ... OJR’s Steve DeRafelo was honored as the District 1-AAA Coach of the Year. ... Council Rock North senior John Dutrow (138) received the District 1 Wrestling Officials Association’s Sportsmanship Award. Dutrow won a gold medal with a major decision in the finals and is now a perfect 39-0 for the season. ... Hall of Fame members with the Class of 2013 included Pottstown 43-year assistant wrestling coach and former athletic director John Armato, who wrestled at East Stroudsburg University; Pennridge state champion Dan Goetter, who wrestled at North Carolina; Norristown three-time state medalist Tim Harner, Upper Perkiomen two-time state medalist Darren Kern, who wrestled at Bloomsburg and is now in the Navy; official Richard R. Marburg, who has served for more than 30 years; Council Rock South two-time state champion Michael Rappo, who starred at North Carolina; Council Rock South state champion Rick Rappo, who went on to the University of Pennsylvania; and current Upper Perkiomen assistant coach Jamy L. Ritter, a two-time state medalist at Quakertown High School who wrestled two years at West Virginia University before becoming a police officer.